Reliance’s Jio Cinema may soon merge with Disney+ Hotstar

In a major move that can change entertainment and OTT viewing in India, Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance has signed a non-binding agreement with Walt Disney Co, taking the companies one step closer to the mega-merger between RIL and Disney Star.

Disney and Reliance are in talks to finalise their merger in February 2024. (Reuters)(REUTERS)
Disney and Reliance are in talks to finalise their merger in February 2024. (Reuters)(REUTERS)

Jio Cinema and Disney+ Hotstar are also included in the deal, likely to be merged together into one entity. Jio Cinema and Hotstar are direct rivals, but their potential merger could be a game-changer in India’s OTT industry.

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The Reliance-Disney merger is expected to be finalised in February 2024, with Ambani’s firm set to have more control over the merged entity. The division of stake between Reliance and Disney will be 51-49, as per early details of the deal.

When the deal goes through, it will become the biggest entertainment merger of India. Under the agreement, the two companies will raise $1.5 dollars towards the merger, while Reliance will have more stake in the firm.

What can the Jio Cinema-Disney+ Hotstar OTT offer?

Jio Cinema and Disney+ Hotstar have been the two major players when it comes to bidding for IPL and international cricket tournament rights. With the potential merger on the cards, this bidding war could end forever.

After Reliance gains control over the Star India channels, cricket rights may be retained by Star for television while the OTT rights may be given to the merged Jio-Disney platform.

The merger between Jio Cinema and Disney+ Hotstar will create the biggest OTT platform of India, with the rights to cricket and football streaming, as well as HBO and WB content. It will also pull Hotstar out of the losses it has been incurring over the last year.

Meanwhile, the news about the merger between Reliance and Disney has sparked a mass exodus of users from Hotstar, which has been struggling for the past few years after losing the IPL rights and HBO deal.

The Reliance-Disney deal will not just bring a change to the OTT business, but also television viewing. The companies are currently ironing out the final details of the merger.

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